Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's A Doozy...

There are times when writing is easy and then there are times that writing is not. Much of the difference has to do with how much is on my mind and what I can get my mind to settle on.

In past blogs I have been very open about the fact that I have been in therapy. For a series of reasons I went cold turkey in early February and decided to go it alone. For four days a week for almost eighteen months I had a singular person who I could say anything to; I could cry, rant, dissect, blame, expel, purge all feelings that seemed unseemly to lay before anyone else.  The weeks following ending my sessions I walked around a depressed mess. I wasn’t worried I couldn’t handle what came my way, in fact I embraced the opportunity to see how I would handle the things that did. What I felt was a deep loss of “relationship.”

The reality is that I didn’t become friends with my therapist. I barely knew any personal facts about her. What I did know was that when I was proud of myself for handling something well she “smised.” (Smiled with her eyes.) There were times that I weeped in uncontrollable pain and though she held back tears, I could see in her eyes that she was sharing my grief and loss. Not just feeling sad for me.

Years ago I had a blow out with an acquaintance. At the time I think we thought we were friends, but I have long since learned the difference between the two. If she were to read this blog she might feel upset to know that I no longer remember what the blow out was about, but I don’t. What I do remember, with startling clarity, were the words she used, “I look at the world positively.” The punch that packed was massive. She couldn’t have picked more provoking words had she tried. Our acquaintanceship didn’t end that day, but it went into some kind of continual holding pattern. We still hover there.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that I was born into the world wearing not the rose colored glasses of optimism, but whatever color one would attribute to compassion… still feels rose colored-ish, but perhaps more coral. What happened is that I grew up in an imperfect environment and the rosey coralesque hue might have played a more predominant role in how I saw the world had thick layers of grey not been piled on top and it was the grey that won out more often than not.

Sometime in the last six months MacGyver asked me if I would take a survey. It was a survey compiled by the Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente. The study is on Adverse Childhood Experiences. Over 17,000 people participated and the data, though still being evaluated, revealed to the professionals involved that the health, social, and economic risks that result from childhood trauma are very real.  Mac asked me the ten questions on the survey, I answered five affirmatively. He answered a resounding zero out of ten positively. I’m not sure who was more shocked, he or I.

I really still cannot fathom that he answered zero positively. I know him and I know he isn’t lying to himself. Though his life hasn’t been perfect, most of what has impacted him negatively came in later years, when he was more fully formed as a person, not in the raw uncoagulated state I’d been in.

I’m not writing this blog because I want people to feel sorry for me, nor do I want people to say, “Wow, she’s doing really well for a person who had a messed up childhood.” I’m writing this because of what I learned over the course of the two or three years I was in therapy. It’s fundamental. I went into therapy thinking that if I could wade through the mire and find out how life events had really affected me, then I could go back into many relationships and all would be well or at least much better. The reality is that I can only go back into these relationships a better me; my being a better me, does not make them a better them. I have learned that there are some relationships best said good-bye to so that I can make room for healthier ones. I have learned that who I am is enough and that I don’t have to keep trying to be someone else. By enough I don’t mean “I’m okay.” It means that I bring as much to a relationship in any moment as I can.

Sadly too many people fight struggles every day that leave them feeling insignificant and unworthy. I wish I could type loudly because I want to say loudly, that if it weren’t for those rosey coralesque glasses that I was born with I don’t know what I would have done to myself. What about people who aren't born with rose colored glasses? Mine helped me get through periods of serious depression, an eating disorder, self-esteem issues, abusive relationships, and over-achieving to the point where I have damaged my body. (All behavioral issues found amongst the 17,000 participants in the Study for Adverse Childhood Experiences.)

I think what has stopped me from feeling like writing recently is the combination of quitting therapy and the resulting separation anxiety along with the seemingly endless reports in the media of young people committing suicide. In early February my cousin’s son, Robert, committed suicide. He was 19. What do I feel about this? Confused, sad, regretful. For all the people out there who feel so small, who feel that they are inconsequential, who don’t fit into the mold of what has been deemed “acceptable,” I want to say loudly, “LOOK AT ME! I’m imperfect too! But let’s fight this fight together.”

I know what it is to slowly and deliberately disappear and wonder if I will be missed. I know what it is to pin my self-worth on what I do, not who I am. I know what it feels like to lose relationships because I am too much work (not only did I feel this, but people have told me this). I know what it means to feel beautiful because I weigh 80 pounds. I know what it means to love a jackass, because if the jackass will love me, then I’m at least that good.

“LOOK AT ME! I’m imperfect too! But let’s fight this fight together.” No child, no person, no one should ever feel that there is no hope. When I go out into the world, when I look into the mirror, I always, always, always remember that someone loves the person I am looking at; even if they have forgotten to love themselves.

In my life I have been fortunate in more ways than I have suffered. It took many years of therapy, mediation, ruminating, and testing the waters, to find this out. I remember feeling my first real loss when I was seven and I felt my first real sense of hope when I was thirty. I am proud that I never completely gave up hope. So on this crazy snowing day in the middle of March, when I should be planting my flowers, I accept that the world isn’t going according to plan and that I have to roll with it.


Thanks for reading!